World / Europe

Senior US official in Moscow to bolster Ukraine peace plan

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-05-19 09:24

Senior US official in Moscow to bolster Ukraine peace plan

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland speaks as she attends a news conference after talks with the Russian Foreign Ministry officials in Moscow, Russia, May 18, 2015. A visit to Moscow by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is a sign that relations between Russia and the United States may be improving, the Kremlin said on Monday. [Photo/Agencies]

MOSCOW - The United States stepped up its diplomatic drive to salvage Ukraine's shaky peace process on Monday by sending a senior State Department official to Moscow to seek common ground over a conflict that has cost more than 6,100 lives in the past year.

Victoria Nuland's visit to Moscow came days after US Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss the conflict, which has badly strained bilateral ties.

Nuland, who is assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, discussed with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin detailed provisions of a peace accord clinched in Minsk in February.

The deal has contributed to an overall easing of hostilities between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels in East Ukraine but has failed to bring a lasting settlement.

"All sides in the conflict need to be talking about a full ceasefire, a full pull-back, (they) need to be withdrawing military equipment, and that includes the military support that the Russian Federation is providing to the separatists in the east," Nuland told reporters after her talks.

Moscow denies Western and Ukrainian accusations that it is providing arms, troops and training to the rebels.

The United States has let its NATO allies Germany and France take a more prominent role, along with Ukraine and Russia, in seeking to end the crisis.

"The United States' role here is to support the full implementation of Minsk. We are doing this in lockstep with ... our colleagues in the EU, with Germany and France ... and Ukraine," Nuland said.

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